The Discomfited Diplomat
Well, then, as we said before, when one door shuts another opens; and just as Mr Puffingtons door was closing on poor Mr Sponge, who should cast up but our newly-introduced friend, Mr Jogglebury Crowdey. Mr Sponge was sitting in solitary state, in the fine drawing-room, studying his old friend Mogg, calculating what he could ride from Spur Street, Leicester Square, by Shorts Gardens, and across Waterloo Bridge, to the Elephant and Castle for, when the grinding of a vehicle on the gravelled ring attracted his attention. Looking out of the window, he saw a horses head in a faded-red silk-fronted bridle, with the letters J. C. on the winkers; not J. C. writhing in the elegant contortions of modern science, but J. C. in the good, plain, matter-of-fact characters we have depicted above.
Thatll be the doctor, said Mr Sponge to himself, as he resumed his reading and calculations, amidst a peal of the doorbell, well calculated to arouse the whole house. Hes a good un to ring! added he, looking up and wondering when the last lingering tinkle would cease.
Before the fact was ascertained, there was a hurried tramp of feet past the drawing-room door, and presently the entrance one opened and let in -- a rush of wind.
Is Mr Sponge at home? demanded a slow, pompous-speaking, deep-toned voice, evidently from the vehicle.
Yez-ur, was the immediate answer.
Who can that be? exclaimed Sponge, pocketing his Mogg.
Then there was a creaking of springs and a jingling against iron steps, and presently a high-blowing, heavy-stepping body was heard crossing the entrance-hall, while an out-stripping footman announced Mr Jogglebury Crowdey, leaving the owner to follow his name at his leisure.
Mrs Jogglebury had insisted on Jog putting on his new black frock -- a very long coat, fitting like a sack, with the well-filled pockets bagging behind, like a poor mans dinner-wallet. In lieu of the shrunk and darned white moleskins, receding in apparent disgust from the dingy tops, he had got his nether man enveloped in a pair of fine cinnamon-coloured tweeds, with broad blue stripes down the sides, and shaped out over the clumsy foot.
Puff, wheeze, puff, he now came waddling and labouring along, hat in hand, hurrying after the servant; puff, wheeze, puff, and he found himself in the room. Your servant, sir, said he, sticking himself out behind, and addressing Mr Sponge, making a ground sweep with his woolly hat.
Yours, said Mr Sponge, with a similar bow.
Fine day (puff -- wheeze), observed Mr Jogglebury, blowing into his large frill.
It is, replied Mr Sponge; adding, wont you be seated?
Hows Puffington? gasped our visitor, sousing himself upon one of the rosewood chairs in a way that threatened destruction to the slender fabric.
Oh, hes pretty middling, I should say, replied Sponge, now making up his mind that he was addressing the doctor.
Pretty middlin (puff), repeated Jogglebury, blowing into his frill; pretty middlin (wheeze); I spose that means hes got a (puff) gumboil. My third (wheeze) girl, Margaret Henrietta, has one.
Do you want to see him? asked Sponge, after a pause, which seemed to indicate that his friends conversation had come to a period, or full stop.
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